§ 2.36 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they propose to take to relieve the abnormal road traffic passing through King's Lynn owing to the unsafe condition of the river bridge at Downham West.]
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT (LORD CHESHAM)
My Lords, the existing wooden bridge at Downham Market is still usable one way by vehicles of up to 5 tons. The old iron bridge has recently been reopened, but with similar restrictions. This permits the road through Downham Market to be used again by such vehicles as an alternative route to the east coast holiday resorts and so to reduce the traffic through King's Lynn. It has been signposted again from last weekend.
§ LORD WISE
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. He mentioned traffic up to 5 tons. I understand that heavy traffic has to go very much out of its way to get round from Wisbech to Lynn and other districts. Is it not possible to make some sort of temporary bridge, other than the iron bridge, which would carry heavy traffic and so save a good deal of waste time and money?
§ LORD CHESHAM
My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that heavier vehicles than that have to go the other way. There is, I understand, a further road that can be used through Stow Bridge, which means going about five miles out of your way to the north. I think that what we have decided to do is a better answer than constructing further temporary bridges there—namely, in the circumstances, because the wooden bridge had deteriorated rather faster than anybody thought would happen, to bring forward the permanent reconstruction of the bridge, which was in the programme for 1963–64, into the current year's programme. My right honourable friend has already announced that as soon as the scheme for reconstruction can be completed by the county council, who are the highway authority concerned, a grant will be forthcoming to enable it to be done at once.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
My Lords, would the noble Lord be kind enough to tell the House what is the line of demarcation between light and heavy traffic? The noble Lord referred to traffic to holiday resorts. Should I be right in assuming that coaches and road passenger traffic would come within the category of heavy traffic?
§ LORD CHESHAM
Laden—because this is, after all, a matter of what the structure of the bridge will carry. I should have thought it was a fact that the majority of coaches with their loads would not be able to use the bridges, although there is always the possibility that there will be some smaller ones which can.